By now, we all know that the Indiana Pacers have some major issues on the offensive end. If you don’t, check out the previous blog. What exactly are they doing wrong and who is the main culprit for killing their offense? Our friend coach Nick of Bbballbreakdown gives his take on the situation, and it mainly involves Paul George and how badly he has fallen off since the beginning of the season:
I’m sure Nick isn’t trying to say that George is to blame for everything, but as stated in the clip, his struggles when the Pacers lose sticks out like a sore thumb. Given that he is undoubtedly the most important player on the team, it makes sense that his struggles directly correlates with the team’s struggles. If part of the issue is, indeed, that he has gone away from the mechanics that helped him succeed tremendously in the early going, this could turn out to be a lost season for George because that’s not something he can fix at this point of the season – it would have been fixed by now otherwise.
George’s shooting percent has gone down every single month. He shot 47.2 percent in November and 46.8 percent in December, but hasn’t shot above 41 percent in any month since, bottoming out at an atrocious 37.2 percent in March. In the last nine games, he has shot below 29 percent five times and managed to shoot above 40 percent just once. That’s reaching Harrison Barnes status. To be fair, George is not the only major player on the team to see a steep drop in production. Roy Hibbert, who had averaged around 12 points and seven rebounds for much of the season, has seen his numbers drop to 9.7 points on 42.2 percent shooting and 4.6 rebounds in March without a decrease in playing time – simply inexplicable for a supposedly-dominant center. Hibbert has pointed out that the lack of ball movement from his guards may be the primary culprit for his struggles, but nothing excuses 4.6 rebounds from one of the tallest and strongest centers in the league.
In the end, though, it appears George has to find a way to break out of his prolonged slump if the Pacers want to turn the season around, since he is supposed to be the engine for everything they do. If not, they might find themselves exiting the playoffs before even having the chance to face the Miami Heat again.
Meanwhile, less friction among themselves would certainly help the situation. During an embarrassing 103-77 loss at home against the Spurs, George Hill and Lance Stephenson reportedly had to be separated from going at each other, from Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
The Pacers are experiencing a leadership void at the moment and the only thing they’re racking up faster than turnovers and bad shots is finger pointing. During a timeout in the second half, George Hill got into a verbal confrontation with Lance Stephenson on the bench and they had to be separated by teammates.
Paul George has battled some negative attention and has turned away some teammates’ offers for support during it. Hibbert has gone on the record calling his teammates selfish. Team president Larry Bird has gone on the record essentially calling his coach, Frank Vogel, soft and his players not committed enough.
Barely a game goes by when one Pacer or another doesn’t seem to be angry at Stephenson for something. Often he earns it, be it ridiculous technical fouls or bizarre decisions, but Stephenson is rarely guilty of not playing with commitment, as Bird has questioned his teammates on.
Troubling times, indeed.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
The Pacers may look hopeless these days, but that doesn’t mean players around the league are counting them out. Tony Parker believes Indiana is still a shoe-in to make it back to the conference finals to face the Miami Heat, from Phillip B. Wilson of Indystar:
Ayres and Parker are convinced the Pacers will bounce back for the playoffs. In fact, Parker already foresees another Pacers-Heat rematch in the East finals.
“I’m not worried about them,” Parker said of the Pacers. “They’re still going to go the conference finals. It’s going to be a great match-up against Miami.”
OTHER NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE: